One of the coolest things about computers and Internet culture is the constant state of evolution. What was a dream one day is a reality less than two years later thanks to a landscape that never stops growing. Right now, there are over 15,000 different third-party APIs out in the wild, and that number gets bigger by the week.
What’s an API?
Application Programming Interface (API) are algorithms designed to manage data. Businesses like AirBnB or Salesforce or Lyft allows their e-commerce operations to grab customer information without compromising ethical codes of the e-commerce business.
It’s pretty amazing to think about how far we’ve come from since the year 2000 rollover because just about everything in our lives has changed. Can you imagine telling yourself seventeen years ago that your cell phone would be the most powerful tool of the last 100 years? A cellphone in 2000 was a luxury, and one that took even a bad photo was three years down the road.
One of the reasons why we’ve been able to come so far is innovators are everywhere. The technology that we use daily is and was wide open. For many companies, they build a tool but allow for outside developers to add on or create plugins that revolutionize how their products work. Some of the all-time best API’s have helped software do more, but also transform capabilities.
We wanted to talk about some of the APIs/plugins that helped change the game and helped break open what we thought was only possible in our wildest dreams.
Gotta love Google
One of the best examples of a plugin going to work for the people and bring in a solid return is the lauded Google Analytics API. Because Google opened up their proverbial doors and allowed for developers to access the analytical tracking capabilities, Google is now one of the most powerful ways to track user data. Because developers can build on top of the powerful Google ecosystem, user data has never been so easy to observe but also know critical information from.
Of course, Google never misses a beat and allows every coding language a place at the table, so sources like Python, Java, PHP, etc. are all included in the possible data retrieval for concurrent and relevant information.
Google’s analytics API allows developers to:
Automate monotonous tasks
Create custom dashboards that display their Google analytical data
Integrate data with other business applications and software
So because the ecosystem is capable of a constant evolution of the data flow, the process gets better all the time.
It’s all about the apps
Speaking of Google, you can’t talk about APIs or plugins without talking about the rise of cellphones and their capabilities. Thanks to API’s and plugins and the ability to build atop platforms, developers in both the world of Android and Apple’s iOS have quite literally revolutionized how our society functions. Just about every aspect of our lives touch some form of cell phone API usage, but also how we connect to our favorite applications.
Small firms are creating new technologies daily that people download fall in love with and in many cases like Tinder or Uber we can’t fathom a world without. Because the frameworks are accessible, teams take little ideas and can watch them evolve into powerhouses. In the case of Uber, they built a platform that rests atop the underlying framework of the Google Play universe — without these doors being opened to them, and there’s no way to create this model. Without plugins/APIs, there’s no way your iPhone is getting Twitter, Facebook, or whatever your favorite social media channel is.
Uber knows API
If there’s one company that’s built significant portions of their platform by utilizing API’s, it’s Uber. By monitoring consumption patterns and predictive models, Uber knows preferred routes or what spots get the most calls for a ride. Because of these analytics being accessible Uber knows passenger ride history, their behavior, and frequency of usage.
Because Uber tracks so much data pours it back into the application, they can continually refine and redevelop how the tool works and performs, but also tweak an odd behavior or fix a bug they might have missed.
APIs are everywhere
The travel giant Expedia is said to have 90% of its bookings via mobile. Salesforce has a huge chunk of their business revenue is handled by mobile, as well — like, 50%. But how does that all work, by utilizing the new API worldview — by working with developers and allowing their third-party applications to work with their Saas products the big companies can take their little slice of the pie and see their profits soar from happy customers. For many businesses, this business model is a win/win.
Don’t be surprised to hear more and more about APIs. Soon, they’ll be a standard part of the modern lexicon. The model and the results are just too good.
Source: Deep Learning on Medium